The Portuguese sweet bread or Pao Doce (Pan Duece) was introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s when sugar plantation migrants arrived in Hawaii from Portugal’s Madeira & Azores islands.
The traditional breads were made with milk, sugar and/or honey that produced the subtle sweetness. The dome-like shape loafs were baked in an outdoor wood burning oven called forno. These ovens were built of stone and took on a beehive resemblance.
In the 1950s a person by the name of Robert Taira opened a bakery in Hilo called Robert’s Bakery. A decade later Robert opened a bakery on King Street in Honolulu… Kings Bakery. In the late 1970s Kings Bakery expanded to California and produced the “infamous” Kings Hawaiian Bread which are in grocery stores around the nation. I (Punaboy Da Webmastah) say “infamous” because I feel that’s when their sweet bread gave in to it’s quality for quantity.
Today, over a 100 years later you can still find Portuguese sweet bread in local bakeries such as Leonards, Liliha’s and Punalu’u Bakery.
And there you have it, a little history & knowledge on this “Hawaiian Bread” which really is Portuguese Sweet Bread.
On a side note: Hawaiian Lomi-lomi or lomi salmon evolved when the same Portuguese people brought salted salmon to Hawaii.